03 February 2017
The Spring City
Tourism in China has skyrocketed over the past few decades since the country’s reform. One city which attracts domestic and foreign tourists year-round is Kunming.
Kunming is the capital of Yunnan Province and was formerly the gateway to the famous Silk Road - a trade route with Tibet, Sichuan, Myanmar, and India. Today, the city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in China, especially in the southwest of the country.
Compared to other big cities, Kunming is an especially pleasant city thanks to its favorable climate and clean air. As a result the city was dubbed “the City of Eternal Spring”. While the beautiful remains, the old neighborhood of Kunming has transformed into a modern city with skyscrapers and shopping malls now a common sight.
Spanning 21,015 km2 Kunming offers plenty of attractions, including temples and national parks, to keep all the tourists busy. At the heart of the city are two squares, Jinma Biji Square and Dongfeng Square. Five roads also meet here - Dongfeng Road, Jinbi Road, Zhengyi Road, Renmin Road and Qingnian Road – offering ample shopping and dining options.
The most eye-catching archways and stylish architecture can be found at Jinma Biji Square, while the main commercial areas are located on Qingnian Road, Zhengyi Road and Renmin Road. Nanping Street, Jingxing Flowers & Birds Market, and Jinma Biji Fang are known as the most popular pedestrian streets.
Other than that, the city also presents a glimpse into Yunnan’s minority cultures – some 26 in total. Visitors can see some of the cultures of these ethinic minorities at Yunnan Nationalities Village, around 35 minutes from Kunming nearby Dianchi Lake.
Dianchi Lake itself is another main attraction in Kunming. The lake measures about 300 square kilometers and is the largest freshwater lake in Yunnan Province, and the sixth largest in China. Various tourist attractions surround the lake giving visitors the chance to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.
PLACES TO VISIT
Located in the southwest part of Kunming City, Dianchi Lake is home to numerous attractions that draw the attention of tourists. Among the most popular are the Yunnan Nationalities Village, Grand View Park (Daguan Park), White Fish Park (Baiyukou Park), Haigeng Bank, Kwan-yin Hill, Western Hills Forest Park, and several temples and pagodas.
WESTERN HILLS (XISHAN) FOREST PARK
Located at 15 kilometers (9.32 miles) from Kunming City, the Xishan Forest Park is situated along Dianchi Lake and has green forests, rolling hills, flowing streams and marvelous caves. No wonder the park has been hailed as "Plateau pearl" for its beautiful scenery. Of all the tourist areas of Xishan Forest Park, Dragon Gate is the must-see area. The Dragon Gate consists of the Sanqing Temple Complex and the Dragon Gate Grotto Complex, which is built on a cliff. Stand on the edge of the cliff to take in spectacular views down to Dianchi Lake.
YUNNAN NATIONALITIES VILLAGE
Located on a narrow peninsula at the north shore of Dianchi Lake, Yunnan Nationalities Village displays the architectural styles, religious beliefs, and folk customs of 26 ethnic groups residing in Yunnan Province. Visitors can learn more about the various cultures, architecture, music and religious beliefs of these ethnic groups, while enjoying the scenery and landscaping of this scenic spot. You can also choose to take part in activities and festival celebrations or have a taste of the village's local food.
THE STONE FOREST
The Stone Forest, or Shilin, is one of the world's natural wonders. It features natural karst stone formations that create the effect of a forest of stones. The forest covers an area of 400 km2 and is divided into seven scenic areas: Lizijing Stone Forest, Naigu Stone Forest, Zhiyun Cave, Lake Chang, Lake Yue, Dadie Waterfall, and Qifeng Cave. The Stone Forest is believed to be over 270 million years old and is a popular attraction with both domestic and overseas tourists. The Stone Forest can be reached in around two hours from Kunmming.